The Broad Highway (Book One - Chapter 1 Chiefly Concerning My Uncle's Last Will and Testament, page 1 of 8)


Previous Page
Next Page

"'And to my nephew, Maurice Vibart, I bequeath the sum of twenty
thousand pounds in the fervent hope that it may help him to the
devil within the year, or as soon after as may be.'"

Here Mr. Grainger paused in his reading to glance up over the rim
of his spectacles, while Sir Richard lay back in his chair and
laughed loudly. "Gad!" he exclaimed, still chuckling, "I'd give
a hundred pounds if he could have been present to hear that," and
the baronet went off into another roar of merriment.

Mr. Grainger, on the other hand, dignified and solemn, coughed a
short, dry cough behind his hand.

"Help him to the devil within the year," repeated Sir Richard,
still chuckling.

"Pray proceed, sir," said I, motioning towards the will.... But
instead of complying, Mr. Grainger laid down the parchment, and
removing his spectacles, began to polish them with a large silk
handkerchief.

"You are, I believe, unacquainted with your cousin, Sir Maurice
Vibart?" he inquired.

"I have never seen him," said I; "all my life has been passed
either at school or the university, but I have frequently heard
mention of him, nevertheless."

"Egad!" cried Sir Richard, "who hasn't heard of Buck Vibart--beat
Ted Jarraway of Swansea in five rounds--drove coach and four down
Whitehall--on sidewalk--ran away with a French marquise while but
a boy of twenty, and shot her husband into the bargain. Devilish
celebrated figure in 'sporting circles,' friend of the Prince
Regent--"

"So I understand," said I.

"Altogether as complete a young blackguard as ever swaggered down
St. James's." Having said which, Sir Richard crossed his legs
and inhaled a pinch of snuff.

"Twenty thousand pounds is a very handsome sum," remarked Mr.
Grainger ponderously and as though more with the intention of
saying something rather than remain silent just then.

"Indeed it is," said I, "and might help a man to the devil as
comfortably as need be, but--"

"Though," pursued Mr. Grainger, "much below his expectations and
sadly inadequate to his present needs, I fear."

"That is most unfortunate," said I, "but--"

"His debts," said Mr. Grainger, busy at his spectacles again,
"his debts are very heavy, I believe."

"Then doubtless some arrangement can be made to--but continue your
reading, I beg," said I.

Mr. Grainger repeated his short, dry cough and taking up the will,
slowly and almost as though unwillingly, cleared his throat and
began as follows: "'Furthermore, to my nephew, Peter Vibart, cousin to the above, I
will and bequeath my blessing and the sum of ten guineas in cash,
wherewith to purchase a copy of Zeno or any other of the stoic
philosophers he may prefer.'"

Previous Page
Next Page


Rate This Book

Current Rating: 2.6/5 (149 votes cast)



Review This Book or Post a Comment